Dabo's Corner

Dabo's Corner


Dabo's Corner


Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held his weekly press conference where he previewed this week’s Atlantic Division showdown with Wake Forest.




Opening Statement:

“It’s a short week, but I feel like our guys have worked. I think that’s a big part of it. It’s just the mental part and understanding both teams have the exact same amount of preparation time. The Florida State game kind of got away from them early. They’re always tough, and they always play us tough. We say it every year that they’re as well-coached a team as there is in the country. They want to be a balanced team. The difficult challenge with that is to make sure you’re lined up properly. They do an excellent job. Their quarterback is a very efficient player. Their offensive line is improving. They have quality backs and quality receivers. Defensively, they do as good a job as anybody we play every single year. They’re never really in the same spot, so you have to do a good job… That #50 up front is back for them now. He is not very big, but he does a great job. Dalton has got his hands full. I think their secondary is very good. It’s always a challenge for our receivers. The biggest thing for us is to focus on the opportunity we have in front of us.”

On Last Trip to WF:

“It was a nightmare. I remember it well. We just couldn’t do anything right. Oh my goodness, it was a long ride back. On Monday, there was an interim coach. It was a culmination of how we had played that year. We’re looking forward to going back up there, and hopefully we can play better.”

On How His Life Has Changed Since:

“Sometimes I sit and I reflect and I’m blown away by how quickly life can change. It’s been that way my whole life as far as trying to focus on the things I believe in, the things I believe are important. I try to use that as a positive when I go and speak and things like that. You never know, first of all, when your opportunity will come or how it will come. The other thing is, you never know who’s paying attention. Those are lessons I’ve learned throughout my life. I’m proud of the group for how far we’ve come since that time. I’m proud of the program. A lot of good things have happened. Looking back to, I guess that’s four years ago now, we’ve come a long way.”

On Tajh Boyd:

“I hope so. I don’t know. He’s just got to execute and play. He didn’t play his best game offensively. Tajh didn’t have his best game. He was just inconsistent. Hopefully that will have some effect. It shouldn’t.”

On Focus of the Short Week in 2008”

“Yeah, it does. A lot has happened. Listen, I’m just trying to survive. My main focus was the players and trying to get the players together because we weren’t together. I knew the only chance that anybody would have is if we could get those guys to have some fun. I didn’t sleep that week. There was just a lot going on. You get an opportunity to lead a program, to be a head coach, and at that point, I was passionate about trying to get the guys to believe they could win again and they could be good. For the next six weeks, let’s just do our job the best we can, and they bought into that. The staff, everybody bought in.”

“We just really weren’t a team. We had just kind of lost our way. We weren’t playing like a team, for whatever reason. All I know is we had to fix some things. When I think about it now, it seems like forever ago. I hated it for Willy Korn. Cullen came back in there and he was able to finish up with a strong finish to his senior year. There was just a lot of disappointment on that team, and the best part about that year is that a lot of guys were able to leave there with pride. Nobody knew who Suh was, but I knew who Suh was. He was just a guy with a funny name at that time. So we go into the game, and it was early in the game, and he blew us up. I remember looking at Thomas Austin, and he was focused and ready, and he said, ‘I can’t block that guy.’ That’s what I remember about that—just being able to finish with a good taste in those guys’ mouths and leave with a lot of pride. They gave us a chance to win. That’s the pride they had in Clemson.”

On the Weekend Following the WF Game in 08:

“I went recruiting Friday night. I remember that. I remember me and Billy Napier going up to North Carolina, I think to see a receiver. We were not very well greeted by some folks when we showed up at that game. Wake Forest is a good program, but we played so bad in that game. There was no indication of anything at all. We had a staff meeting that morning. I had the devotion that morning, ironically. It was my day to do the devotion. It was just a bizarre day.”

On How Tough It Was to make Coaching Changes:

“Oh my gosh, are you kidding? Absolutely. It was total chaos trying to do everything. It was very difficult because I still have a ton of respect for Coach Spence. Whether you like him or not, the guy worked his butt off for Clemson. It all transpired so fast, and I’m sitting in Terry Don’s office thinking, ‘I don’t know what he’s going to tell me.’ That was a difficult decision, but there was just no way it was going to work because it was going to be different. We just rolled our sleeves up and went to work. That was a crazy, crazy week, but we had fun.”

On Events of October 13, 2008:

“It wasn’t a long discussion because Coach Bowden walked out and we walked in. Coach Bowden was great, like he always was. I’m sitting there in sweatpants and a sweatshirt on a Monday morning. ‘Dabo, you’re now the head coach. You call all the shots. See my in my office in five minutes.’ You can imagine the emotion in the room. It was a raw moment. Then it got quiet, and I had no clue what to say. That was it. About an hour later, I had met with every one of them individually and we tried to make it work. All of those guys’ contracts were up March 1. Even though I was getting a job with the hand I was dealt, from scratch… The rest of those guys all had opportunities to stay. I’m really, really proud of the job the team did, and those coaches.”

On Struggles of 08 Team:

“I didn’t have to identify them. I think it was pretty evident that we weren’t a great team. We were coming off a good year. I just think that for whatever reason, we had just kind of lost our way. Maybe it was just things building up that I didn’t see, I don’t know. All I know is what I saw at the time. Coach Bowden was great in that regard. It just seemed like our team didn’t believe. To this day, I’ve never had a team meeting where I haven’t had a ‘Believe’ sign.”

On Thursday Night Games:

“Well, we’re 1-9 on Thursday nights. You have to take the good with the bad, and we have to deal with that. We played hard. We had some mistakes early, but it’s tough to win on the road, in any league. It’s a challenge. From a travel standpoint, I think it about evens out. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. The big thing for us is that our guys will have to miss some class. We’ll go longer tomorrow than we normally would on a Friday, about 15 or 20 minutes longer. We’ve just got to be who we are. At this point, it’s not like you’re just going to transform yourself. Let’s study the film, let’s prepare. They’re going to be who they are, we’re going to be who we are.”

On Boyd’s Focus versus VT:

“I think his head was perfect. Man, he was great. Sometimes you just screw up. Sometimes you just make a bad play. Sometimes you play at such a high level and you do so many good things. There ain’t nothing wrong with him. He made some great throws too. Then we had Nuk at the back of the end zone and he was high on that. He was just antsy. The one to Sammy, he just threw a rocket. But boy, I’ll tell you what, he made some great throws. He made some great runs. He’s not perfect. There’s no conspiracy. He just had a bad game. There’s really no way to explain it other than he just didn’t execute his fundamentals on a few of those plays. Did he get better? Yes. Did he get worse? No. He improved. Sometimes Tajh feels like he’s got to explain everything instead of saying, ‘You know what? That was a bad play.’ He wouldn’t really get out of it. The Georgia Tech game is a perfect example of that. He’s very hard on himself. This year, he’s done a much better job on that. I wish he had played better. Heck, he played bad against Georgia Tech and finished with the second-best day in school history.”

On Confidence of Defense:

“I think that’s big. Confidence is a big thing. With any team, confidence is a big thing, with young people in particular. They’re starting to really get it figured out. You can only teach them so much. They’re going to make mistakes. They’re playing hard. Shoot, even not playing great early in the season… They just keep playing. They just keep fighting. They’ve had some huge stops all year long. Most of them will be coming back off of that unit.”

On Offensive Struggles versus VT:

“Offensively, we definitely played our worst game. I don’t know what it was. Part of it was, you have to give them some credit. They’re on scholarship too. We didn’t protect our quarterback well. That’s something that maybe you would expect from this group earlier in the season. We have not had that all year. I thought Andre Ellington played extremely well. We did some good things outside. Overall, it was not a very crisp execution on offense. We’ve got to get back to doing things the right way. It resulted in three-and-outs. It affects us because then your defense is playing more snaps. You need all phases to come together and find ways to win differently. Sometimes it just won’t go in the bucket and you have to find another way to win.”

On Night Games at Clemson:

“I have no idea. Everybody’s scared of the Valley at night, I guess. I’m not getting any younger, I’ll tell you that. Heck, we played a 3:30 at Boston College when we didn’t get home until 3:30 or 4:00, I think.”

On Focus of Coaching in a Short Week:

“We address everything. Defensively, we played our best game. As I told them here Sunday, there were ten plays that if we can clean this up, we can be really good. You just forget about it. I was talking to Kyle Parker about that on Friday when he was here. That’s all you do is play. For us, when you’re a competitor and you don’t have a good performance, it bothers you. You want to get back out there. You always have something to shoot for to keep improving as a player.”



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